Since 2014, the Riverside Police Department’s budget has grown by 41.4%, from about $3.9 million to $5.5 million and in 2023 the department is budgeted to add four more patrol officers to its ranks.

At the same time, the number of major crimes – those included each year in what’s known as the Uniform Crime Report, which is submitted to the Illinois State Police and compiled nationwide by the FBI – has plummeted.

According to the 2022 Uniform Crime Report for Riverside, released in early April by Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley, the number of major crimes investigated by local police fell 26% year over year from 95 to 70.

In 2009, the number of crimes qualifying for inclusion on the Uniform Crime Report  (UCR) peaked at 201.

The UCR tracks eight specific violent and property crimes, including homicide, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault/battery, burglary, theft, vehicle theft and arson.

What the 2022 numbers reveal is that violent crime in Riverside last year was almost non-existent. There was one homicide case, a crash on First Avenue in April 2022 in which a passenger in the alleged offender’s vehicle died.

Luis Duran, 25, of Chicago was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol. He was the deceased passenger’s boyfriend, said Buckley.

The case is still pending, and Duran’s offense could be reduced to a lesser charge in exchange for a plea deal. Duran remains in custody at Cook County Jail with his bond set at $250,000.

There was also one robbery reported in Riverside last year, in July, when 25-year-old Khalid Bryant, of Berwyn, allegedly held up the clerk at the Arco gas station minimart at 3346 Harlem Ave. 

Riverside police arrested Bryant less than a day later in Hillside. He remains on court-ordered electronic monitoring while awaiting trial.

For the second consecutive year, Riverside police investigated no criminal sexual assault complaints, and for the first time in at least two decades Riverside police received no complaints of aggravated assault/battery.

In the years 2004-08, the village investigated an average of about 33 aggravated/assault cases annually. That average had plummeted between 2017-22 to about two a year.

In the way of property crimes, there was a serious, destructive case of arson which destroyed a garage and house in the 100 block of West Burlington Street in March 2022. 

The owner of that property, 47-year-old Anthony Barker, was arrested last October and charged with two counts of arson. He is also on electronic monitoring while awaiting trial in that case.

There were six burglaries reported in Riverside in 2022, the lowest number in one year since 2017, when there were four. In 2021, there were nine burglaries reported in Riverside.

Those are the only three years since 2004 in which Riverside has recorded less than 11 burglaries. The village’s high-water mark for burglaries in that time was 34 in 2008.

The largest single category of major crime Riverside police investigate in any given year is theft, and 2022 was no different, with the village recording 59 theft cases. That figure represents the lowest number of thefts in a single year since 2004. 

In the decade between 2004 and 2013, Riverside police routinely investigated more than 100 thefts annually, topping out at 169 in 2010.

Vehicle thefts ran rampant in Chicago and the suburbs in 2022 after social media videos instructed thieves how to heist Kia and Hyundai models using a screwdriver and a  USB cord.

Riverside, however, actually saw a decline in vehicle thefts in 2022 year over year, from four to two.

“We don’t have on-street overnight parking, which helps cut down on catalytic converter thefts and vehicle thefts,” Buckley said. “Parking in the garage truly helps us. The vehicles that are stolen are parked on driveways or along busy streets.”

At the village board’s April 6 meeting, Buckley presented crime numbers along with other 2022 police data gleaned from the department’s annual report. The data showed that felony arrests in Riverside in 2022 were down year over year, from 30 to 12, and that misdemeanor arrests rose from 131 to 166.

Arrests of juveniles increased sharply year over year, from 26 to 68, while DUI arrests fell from 55 to 47.

Total calls for service were pegged at 11,723 – an increase year over year by more than 3,000. Those numbers were driven by large increases in the number of business checks, school checks and vacation watches conducted by police. 

Buckley said school checks are a priority for him and that he has directed officers to visit them throughout the day, not just at the start and end of the school day.

Riverside police also responded to 404 more “assist other agency” calls in 2022 than they did in 2021.

Riverside police also wrote almost 300 more traffic tickets in 2022 compared to the prior year and issue more than 500 additional warnings for traffic violations.